Start ’em, Sit ’em: Brady’s return means better Gronk production

Luke Garza

Sports Blogger



Start ‘em

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has struggled in his first two games back but should improve when quarterback Tom Brady returns Sunday. (Lenny Ignelzi, Flickr)
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has struggled in his first two games back but should improve when quarterback Tom Brady returns Sunday.
(Lenny Ignelzi, Flickr)

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension is officially over, signaling Gronk’s return to fantasy relevance. Brady is fresh, angry and motivated. Brady will likely throw often against the Cleveland Browns, meaning Gronkowski is due for a few red zone targets. Don’t be surprised to see the first Gronk spike of 2016 on Sunday.


Jordan Howard, running back, Chicago Bears

Howard benefited from Jeremy Langford’s absence Sunday, touching the ball 26 times for a total of 132 yards. He was effective on the ground, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. This week, the Bears travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts, who recently allowed Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon to rack up a season-high 117 yards Sunday morning at London. The touches will be there for Howard, as will a struggling Colts defense that gives up over 15 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.


Sammie Coates, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

Coates averages 21.7 yards per reception, second-most among wide receivers. Coates has carved out a solid role in Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense, recording at least 50 yards in each of the Steelers’ first four games this season. The Steelers face the Jets on Sunday, who allow a league-high 9.7 yards per pass attempt, good for most in the league.


Sit ‘em

DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Houston Texas

I’m going bold with my “sits” this week. Here are my reasons for putting Hopkins on the bench (only if you have other solid options at receiver). Will Fuller has eaten away at Hopkins’ production this season. The high-flying rookie out of Notre Dame has two more receptions, 96 more yards and as many touchdowns as Hopkins. This will even out as the season goes on, but Hopkins will face Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes this weekend, who held Odell Beckham Jr. to a career-low 23 receiving yards Monday night.


Eddie Lacy, running back, Green Bay Packers

After three weeks, Lacy is averaging 5 yards per carry. That figure ranks near the top of the league, but is slightly skewed because of his small sample size of three games. That figure should decrease Sunday when the Packers host the Giants on Sunday night. The Giants allow only 3.2 yards per carry, and held Saints running back Mark Ingram and the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliot to a combined 81 yards earlier this season.


Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has undoubtedly been fantasy football’s MVP through the quarter mark. He’s scored 24 more points than the next highest player –Drew Brees– and his Falcons are 3-1. Ryan absolutely torched the reeling Panthers defense for over 500 yards Sunday. His fortunes will likely take a turn for the worse when the Falcons travel to Denver to face the Broncos, who, in my opinion, have one of the best three defenses in the NFL. They allow less than 170 passing yards per game and have picked off more than twice as many passes as they’ve allowed touchdowns; five and two, respectively)


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